Common Mistakes When Performing CPR

Common Mistakes When Performing CPR

In the US, over 350,000 cardiac arrest cases occur outside hospital premises, and 90% of them prove fatal. However, if CPR is given right away, the chances of survival can double or triple.

The good news is that this technique can be taught, so everyone can perform it. Yet, it’s a process that needs precise application, focus, previous knowledge, and training. With that being said, a lot of people may not feel knowledgeable or confident enough to perform CPR properly in an emergency, which is why knowing what to avoid in this situation is of high importance.

This article explains the common mistakes that take place during CPR, from improper arm positioning during the process to not calling for medical assistance.

Not Taking Action

One of the most common errors related to performing CPR is not due to any lack of skill or knowledge but due to not using them. When people see someone lose consciousness before them, they may freeze up and be unable to do anything.

Whether this is because of panic, the bystander effect, or any other reason, it’s crucial for people trained in CPR to acknowledge these situations and try to work past them. Sometimes not taking any action may be worse than other mistakes, like administering inadequate compression.

In most cases, when people see a person drop to the floor and stop breathing, their instinct to help kicks in. However, while it’s natural to want to help someone in need, it’s also natural to become overwhelmed by emotions and simply not know what to do.

Always remember that the faster you act, the greater the chances of survival for the other person. With every passing second, the person in need of help loses the chance to later make a full recovery.

Try to avoid this mistake by focusing on the bigger picture and remembering that composure is the key. As soon as you witness someone lose consciousness, call 911, and start performing CPR.

Prioritizing Mouth-to-Mouth Over Chest Compression

Saving someone’s life can be a matter of seconds, and while making a split-second decision is difficult, it’s often necessary. There are two vital steps in first-response help – calling 911 and starting chest compressions immediately. Yet, chest compressions are the most common oversights compared to mouth-to-mouth.

In the event that someone stops breathing and there’s no cardiac activity, many turn to rescue breaths as the first response. Although mouth-to-mouth can be useful, the older ABC sequence of giving CPR – Airway, Breathing, Compressions – is not practical anymore.

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, there is still oxygen in the bloodstream, which means that it needs to be circulated. And the best way to do that is by using chest compressions, i.e., the new CAB sequence – Compressions, Airway, Breathing.

If you’re performing chest compressions, ensure they are deep, but be mindful of the person you’re giving the CPR to. Children and infants require a different way of compression than adults. In all cases, you need to secure your elbows and place the palm of your hand right in the middle of the person’s chest. It’s also important to remember the 30:2 compressions-to-rescue breaths ratio.

Not Allowing the Chest Wall to Recoil

When performing compressions, it’s important to mind the recoil of the chest wall. Inadequate recoil can halt the blood from reaching the heart. After each compression, ensure the chest wall fully recoils, so the next compression is fully effective.

While doing CPR, it’s paramount that you do not lean your body on the person’s chest. If you do it, due to becoming tired of doing the compressions, you will further worsen the situation by not allowing the chest wall to pull back.

Doing Long Pauses in Chest Compressions

Another common error while performing CPR is taking long pauses between compressions. Chest compressions are effective only when delivered with short pauses because this will maintain the same flow of blood circulating in the body.

A common misunderstanding is that you should rest between compressions, but according to the American Heart Association, a pause between compressions that lasts longer than 10 seconds can be detrimental to the victim.

Not Maintaining Proper Compression Rhythm

Another misconception about performing CPR is that compressions have to be fast. Usually, such notions are the result of acting in the spur of the moment and wanting to help a person suffering an emergency. However, panicking will only worsen the situation and make the person giving CPR deliver compressions in the wrong way, either too fast or too slow.

In any case, improper chest compressions that are given too fast or too slow can effectively compromise the goal of CPR. Approximately 100-120 compressions a minute is the standard suggested CPR rhythm. Moreover, ensure the compressions are deep enough, as the inadequate depth of the compression won’t better the condition of the victim, no matter how hard you try.

Over-Inflating the Lungs While Doing CPR

If you happen to be trained in CPR, then you know that rescue breaths should be administered after you do chest compressions. To be able to do so properly, make sure each rescue breath you deliver lasts approximately one second.

On the contrary, you might cause inadequate ventilation and overinflated lungs, which, in turn, leads to air entering the stomach. The reason why filling the stomach with air is dangerous during chest compressions and rescue breaths is that it can cause vomiting and regurgitation, obstructing the airway of the victim.

Moreover, make absolutely certain that the victim’s head and neck are positioned in the right way so that the rescue breaths reach the lungs.

Inadequate Hand Placement

In the heat of the moment, a lot of CPR givers forget to position their hands on the victim’s chest properly. To avoid making such an error, ensure the person you’re giving CPR to is lying on their back on a flat surface.

Next, you should position your hands in the center of the victim’s chest. Misapplication of hand positioning can render the whole CPR method ineffective. Place one on top of the other (if you’re giving CPR to an adult; for children, you can use only one hand), with the fingers interlocking while ensuring your shoulder is positioned right above your hands – keep it in a vertical line with the position of your hands.

Moreover, when doing the compressions, make sure you lift off your body weight completely from the victim. This is to make sure the person’s chest recoils properly. Another thing to remember is to never lift your palms off the victim’s chest – keep them in the same position throughout the whole process of compressing. An inadequate release of the hands might revert the success you’ve had thus far.

The Final Say

Jumping to a person’s rescue when they drop to the floor and stop breathing is always the best thing to do, but knowing to do it properly is crucial. When it comes to CPR, proper hand positioning, allowing adequate chest wall recoiling, as well as favoring chest compressions over rescue breaths can make all the difference to a person in need of medical assistance.

By remembering all these small details that are connected and highly crucial to the success of the CPR technique, you could be saving someone’s life!
If you aren’t confident enough that you can do proper CPR and are afraid you might give chest compressions at an inadequate rate, you can always sign up to undergo training and become certified in administering CPR by the book. That way, you’ll minimize the chances of making a mistake and feel confident you can keep a person alive until medical professionals arrive and administer the proper care.